Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Greetings from Our Soldiers

Canadian Forces Combat Camera now have Holiday video messages available for download from personnel deployed in Afghanistan. The messages feature personnel from Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories. Generic messages from personnel where no hometown is mentioned are also available. The video messages can be downloaded from the following site on
Combat Camera

Pictured here: Melissa W. a medic with 2 Field Ambulance makes calls home on a satellite phone on Christmas 2006 Combat Camera

Monday, December 20, 2010

Clearing the Way ~ Combat Engineers in Kandahar

This is the story of the men and women of 23 Field Squadron - Op Archer Roto 2, comprising soldiers, sailors and airmen drawn from across the Canadian Forces and beyond. The intent of this book is to mesh their very personal stories with the Squadron War Diary, all within the framework of the overall 1 RCR Battle Group mission. This mission was accomplished by the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operators, heavy equipment operators, armoured engineers, geomatic technicians, combat engineers and various support and headquarters staff that were 23 Field Squadron.
This book can can be ordered or purchased through:
23 Field Squadron
University of Waterloo
Coates and Laser (Petawawa)
And at Participating Kit Shops:

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Clearing the Way: Combat Engineers in Kandahar will be donated to the Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warrior Fund.

"Clearing the Way" includes accounts of members of 23 Field Squadron who took part in Operation Medusa. A fierce battle in Afghanistan in which Canada paid a heavy price is the inspiration for a new book authored by some of those who fought the Taliban. - Winnepeg Free Press

Tanks are a standard asset within the Canadian battle group, but did you know that the first time they deployed en masse from Kandahar Airfield, they were caught in a Soviet-era minefield? Do you know how Route Summit got its name, or how it came to be in the first place? Or what happened to forward operating base Zettlemeyer? Or how a “Mad Max-ed” yellow bulldozer played an integral role in Operation MEDUSA? Or that, after surviving a roadside bomb that destroyed his vehicle and kit, a petty officer, second class defused an IED using only his bayonet?
Clearing theWay answers these questions and more, and provides an intimate glimpse into the reality on the ground in Kandahar Province during late summer and autumn 2006.
Corporal Matt Austin was interested in writing a few short stories about the soldiers in 23 Fd Sqn, an idea fully supported by Major Mark Gasparotto, the officer commanding the squadron on Roto 2. “I told his section commander,” says Maj Gasparotto, “that we should look at interviewing all the members in the squadron and putting together a small book.”
Back in Canada in April 2007,CplAustin got to work, travelling through Ontario and making dozens of calls to various parts of the country.“The real challenge,” he says, “was to interview all persons involved in the TICs [troops in contact] or significant incidents. Naturally, soldiers sometimes forget things they may have said in the past, or events in detail.” Realizing this,Cpl Austin cross-interviewed troops at different times to verify the narrative and root out what were, essentially, simple lapses in memory.
Another challenge he did not anticipate was the emotional impact that revisiting these events would have on those he interviewed. “Many men,” he says, “would stop and only continue with the support of other section mates.”
After writing four highly detailed chapters, Cpl Austin was placed in a section heading back to Afghanistan, forcing him to hand over his research. “[He] ran out of time to cover everything that deserved to be written about,” says Maj Gasparotto.“That’s when I decided to write the squadron war diary and invited other members to share their stories.”
The book includes the war diary written by Maj Gasparotto, the chapters by Cpl Austin and first-person accounts of various actions that stood out during the tour.
- Forces.gc.ca

"For the most part it's the individual soldiers' account of what they're seeing and a lot of it is candid and it's repeating conversations that people had during certain events," said Busbridge.
"It's a more personal account of what happened during that time."
- Canadian Free Press

Collaborative work
After he had written four lengthy, highly detailed chapters, Cpl Austin was placed in a section heading back to Afghanistan, forcing him to hand over his research.

“[Cpl Austin] ran out of time to cover everything that deserved to be written about,” explains Maj Gasparotto. “That’s when I decided to write the squadron war diary and invited other members to share their stories.”

The finished book includes the war diary by Maj Gasparotto, the chapters by Cpl Austin and several first-person accounts of various incidents that stood out during the tour.
Clearing the Way provides an intimate glimpse into the reality on the ground in Kandahar Province during late summer and fall 2006.
Read further ~Capt Edward J.H. Stewart LFAA Public Affairs

These front-line engineers are often the first in and first out of a combat zone -- clearing bombs and mines, building roads, demolishing what needs to be taken out and providing "castle-like" fortifications for protection. lfpress

Comments: Post a book review in the comments section and I'll transfer them below.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bless Cpl. Steve Martin ~December 18, 2010

It is with heavy hearts that today that we learn that a Canadian soldier has died on Saturday. Our Canadian Forces member was killed yesterday, December 18th, 2010 at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time, after an improvised explosive device detonated while on operations in the Panjwa'i district of Kandahar Province.
Killed in action was Corporal Steve Martin, serving with 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment Battle Group, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec.
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of our fallen soldier during this difficult time. We will not forget the sacrifice of Cpl Martin.
Cpl. Steve Martin, 24, died while on a foot patrol near a major road construction project that NATO is pushing into the restive Panjwaii district of Kandahar.
Martin was just two days short of his 25th birthday when he died.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen soldier during this difficult time," Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, told reporters at Kandahar Air Field. "We will not forget the sacrifice of this soldier as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar province."

Martin was patrolling near a road that NATO forces are carving into the horn of Panjwaii when he was killed by an improvised explosive device, or IED, early Saturday afternoon local time.

The road is a key element of an offensive by Canadian, U.S. and Afghan forces into the horn of Panjwaii, an area that until recently was dominated by the Taliban and used as a staging point for attacks into nearby Kandahar City, the provincial capital.

Although most insurgents fled the area before an initial assault by coalition troops, several cells of Taliban fighters have continued to operate in the region.

They have mounted harassing attacks against the armoured vehicles and construction equipment building the gravel thoroughfare into the region, sprinkling the path ahead of the troops with IEDs.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston offered his deepest sympathies to Martin's loved ones, saying that his death brought home the weight of his new responsibilities as commander-in-chief of Canada's Armed Forces.

"Cpl. Martin displayed an admirable sense of duty to Canada, bringing great pride to his unit and to the Forces as a whole," Johnston wrote.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a written statement extending his deepest sympathies to Martin's family and friends on behalf of all Canadians.

"Cpl. Martin was a brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country," the statement said.

"Thanks to Canadian Forces members like him, we continue to make real progress in Afghanistan, rebuilding the country and contributing to the peace and security of its people."

Saturday's attack shattered a period of relative calm in the Panjwaii district, where most of Canada's troops are based.

Although the onset of winter has meant a decline in attacks, the Canadian battle group in Kandahar has still had several of its soldiers wounded.

The Department of National Defence, however, does not release information on wounded soldiers and military spokesmen would not say if anyone else was wounded in the bombing that claimed Martin's life.

The bombing that killed Martin came amid a wave of attacks by Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers across Afghanistan.

Earlier Saturday, a suicide bomber attacked the vehicle of an Afghan district chief in the Canadian area of operations. A car packed with explosives tried to ram a vehicle carrying District Governor Hamdullah Nazik. The bomber missed his target and plowed into bystanders, killing two people, including a child, and wounding 11 others. Nazik was unharmed. more...

Repatriation Ceremonies - Fellow comrades say goodbye to Cpl Steve Martin as he commences his journey home to his family.

Our Fallen Soldier Returns Home
Corporal Steve Martin of the 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, based at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier, Quebec, returned home to Canada.

The repatriation ceremony for the latest Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, Corporal Steve Martin, originally scheduled for Tuesday had been delayed to Wednesday at 2 p.m. at CFB Trenton due to severe winter weather in Europe.

Where: 8 Wing, CFB Trenton, Ontario.
When: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 2 p.m.

Present to pay their respects were His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada; The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence; Mr. Habibullah Qaderi, the Consul General of Afghanistan (Toronto); and other dignitaries.
As this is a solemn and formal occasion, all attending were requested to dress appropriately.

Send a Letter to A Canadian Hero Today

Below, I found an article by Mercedes Stephenson posted in the Toronto Sun today informing us about what Christmas is like when serving overseas. (every soldiers' situation varies completey) Below the article, I have posted information on how to send a letter or card to a Canadian Soldier. Please, pick up your pens and let's write a letter today. Although my son is here now, I think of those serving overseas and continue writing letters and cards. (Let me know in the comment section if you have done this previously and/or today.) On their behalf, I thank you. M.M.
A Soldier’s Christmas dream
If you read only one letter over the holiday season, let this Canadian trooper’s heartfelt words be it By MERCEDES STEPHENSON, QMI Agency

This Christmas while snowflakes gently fall from the sky over Canada, rockets will hail down over our bases in Afghanistan. As we unwrap gifts, counter-IED teams will take apart bombs.

What’s it like to be on the frontlines at Christmas? Most of us are fortunate not to know.
I asked someone who does know — a Canadian Forces member who recently returned from Afghanistan. He has spent five Christmases away from his family, serving Canada.

What follows are a soldier’s powerful, heartfelt words. If there is only one Christmas letter you read this holiday season, let this be it:

Most of my thoughts stem from last year when I was in Kandahar (again). Please excuse me if I get too melodramatic — it is the holidays, after all.

I’ve been thinking of the overused Henry V quotes a lot lately: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

Bonds formed in combat are lasting ones. They endure the passage of time, differences of opinion, changes of marital status, physical separation and everything else.

Young soldiers who spend Christmas Eve on duty in the dark, cold observation post of an isolated platoon house will never forget that Christmas Eve; nor will he forget with whom he spent it.

So what do we do at Christmas? Well, above all else, it’s got to be another day on operations because the war doesn’t stop.

Our troops are on patrol, flying helicopters, and manning operation centres. They are “doing the business” 24/7 — literally.

We try to minimize the impact of being away from home during the holidays by embracing the traditions of soldiers who have gone before us.

The Soldier’s Christmas Dinner, where the junior soldiers are served by officers and NCOs is perhaps the best example and one that endures.

Inevitably, there will be some local initiatives to make things feel like home. Impromptu “Secret Santa” gift exchanges, a decorated Christmas tree in the corner of a dusty mud hut or someone with a guitar and the occasional Christmas song.

I must say that in recent years, the remarkable, selfless outpouring of support for our troops by caring Canadians has been incredible.

The impact of those gifts and cards addressed simply to “a Canadian Soldier” is immeasurable.
The toughest part for me, is knowing just how difficult it is for our families at home. They suffer, too. They remain worried — despite what we tell them.

While we commiserate amongst ourselves about being deployed, they’re often alone and are missing a big part of their lives at Christmas.

The empty chair at the dinner table, presents that will stay wrapped until their loved one comes home (my wife and kids left the tree up for seven weeks after Christmas until I came home on leave) or the single, dark house on the street because dad wasn’t home to put up the Christmas lights (ummm ... guilty!).

Finally, for those deployed this year, although difficult, it will be tempered by thoughts of how enthusiastically they’ll celebrate next Christmas. At least that’s what helped my family and me through it last year.

This Christmas, I suspect there are thousands of troops making up for being away last year. Like our family, I’m sure they’ll be raising their glasses with their loved ones to those who are currently deployed — and sadly for those who didn’t come home.

Even though they may now be safely back in Canada with their families and friends, you can bet those soldiers will be thinking of those with whom they spent last Christmas — their brothers.
~ A Canadian Soldier

Remember a Canadian solider today. Send a letter or a card. The cost to send to "Any Canadian Soldier" is a regular stamp. (a small cost to put a smile on a soldier's face and boost their morale)
Directions to mail a letter (parcels unfortunately are not permitted due to space limitations allowing family and friend parcels, food and equipment to be transported overseas to our troops) :
Addressing :
All letters and cards addressed to "Any Canadian Forces member". Please refer to "Operational Addresses" to obtain the address information. Note that the lines "Rank/Initials/Name" and "Unit/Section" of the operational address are to be replaced with "Any Canadian Forces member".
For example, if writing to Afghanistan, the address should be:

Any Canadian Forces Member
Op Athena
PO Box 5058 Stn Forces
Belleville ON K8N 5W6

Merry Christmas to the men and women of the Canadian Forces. Your selfless sacrifice delivers the gift of freedom to Canadians year after year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Our Soldiers

On Remembrance Day (and Veterans' Day) we need to pay our deepest respects to all who have sacrificed and suffered in war; our soldiers who have dedicated their lives for us.
I also think of the families who have lost their loved ones and those who are missing their loved ones as they serve today.

Wear a poppy in remembrance and thoughts of our soldiers.

If you see a Veteran ~ remember to thank them - that's the least we can do for them- think of what they have done for us.

Always Remembered - Everyday in my heart. ~ Military Mom

"Lest we forget our heros, who fought and died,
For the Red and White"
~ Julian Austin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sending Thanksgiving Wishes

Thanksgiving Wishes
Sending all our Canadian soldiers away from home and soldiers at home, warm Thanksgiving wishes. We have so much to be thankful for ... YOU - for your dedication, your hard work, your bravery, your committment to your country, your difficult times when away from those you love. We also have families of soldiers to be thankful for - for the support and love of your soldier, difficult times you endure when they are away from you - your love and committment. We send you our prayers. ~m.m.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Living day to day in a personal sacrifice

On a mission to defend.

You are the hero whose face we may never get to see

But the pride and glory that's lives in a soldier heart

Bears one word


On this day

We give thanks and honour to those brave and true

Our flags, we will proudly wave

The Red and White

We will give our thanks not only to our God

but also to every soldier for our bounties, that be.

For they give meaning to words

Home of the True north strong and Free.

To the soldiers in the mess hall

Eating their Thanksgiving feast,

to the troops in the desert eating

their next rationed meal.

May peace, hope and strength

Travel with you along the way

And may these wishes find you

On A Soldiers Thanksgiving day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Remember 9-11



Together we pause to remember the victims, to grieve with the families and friends of those who died, and to honour the heroes of that day and each day since who have sacrificed to save lives and serve their country. We will always remember will our hearts and our prayers.
With the rest of the world, we pause on September 11th to honour the ninth year since this horrific day. It is a day of sadness, memories, and coming together as one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rally to Stand Up for Our Veterans - London ON

Date: Sunday, August 29th, 2010
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: Victoria Park, London, ON

View Larger Map'>509 Clarence Street, London
Bordered by Clarence, Central, Wellington, Dufferin Sts
This will be a Rally with some music, a few speakers, and Canada's Veterans, where a message can be sent to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. There will be a petition to sign that will be delivered to Parliament Hill in September.

Put a "Support The Troops" magnet on your car. Our Canadian Troops and Veterans have asked us to stand up for their rights.
We need to show these brave Canadians that we do support them, and we will stand behind them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soldiers' Yellow Ribbons Ripped off Bridge

I have posted a story that appeared in CNEWS today. I had tied up many yellow ribbons in honour of a local soldier deploying. I had decided to tie a big beautiful yellow bow prominently on the flagpole holding the Canadian flag. It was gone the next day. I then found that 90 % of the ribbons missing went by the end of the week. I had caught someone pulling one off one evening. Questioning her, I asked her if she knew what the yellow ribbons were for. I asked her to help me put it back up. She then told me she had been taking it off because her Dad wanted one. I told her to tell her Dad if he would like one, to talk to me the next day and that I would make one for him. I never heard from either person. (and I replaced the ribbons)
~ SOT (Support Our Troops)

Read the story below, and let me know what your thoughts are:
Soldiers' Yellow Ribbons Ripped off Bridge
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The organizer of the local Yellow Ribbon Campaign says she was disgusted to discover more than 100 yellow ribbons, each representing a different Canadian fallen soldier, has been ripped off the Buckhorn Bridge this week.

“That’s like knocking over a tombstone,” Darlene Loucks said. She had driven to the bridge Tuesday and found about 17 tattered yellow ribbons on the ground.

Loucks, who brought the remaining ribbons to Wednesday night’s Military Family Support Network meeting, questioned the compassion of anyone who would do such a thing.

“It’s not nice. Pathetic. No conscience,” she said.

The yellow ribbons were tied to Buckhorn Bridge June 25, meant as a silent tribute to the 150 Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan.

Each ribbon had the name of a fallen soldier written in black.

Kathy Bulger, the mother of Cpl. Nicholas Bulger who was killed in Afghanistan on July 3, 2009, said seeing the remaining ribbons made her sad and angry.

“It’s possible they didn’t know what the yellow ribbons meant, but I doubt it,” she said. “It’s just terrible.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

God Bless Sgt. James MacNeil - Monday, June 21st, 2010

It was difficult learning the news of our fallen soldier. The name sounded familiar. It was. Friends and comrades are devestated and share in the grief with the family of Sgt. Jimmy MacNeil. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

Repatriation ~ He is Coming Home
Sgt. James MacNeil is on his final journey home. The repatriation is scheduled for Friday, June 25th, 2010 at 2:00 pm at CFB Trenton, ON
Please wear red, carry a flag and stand with others on the overpasses along the Highway of Heroes (401 Westbound from Trenton to Don Valley in Toronto). It is a chance to pay respects and show the family that they are not alone during such a difficult time in their lives. Let's show the MacNeil family and comrades our compassion for our fallen soldier.
Chimo Jimmy. Thank you for your dedication, courage and compassion. You will always be remembered.

Sergeant James (Jimmy) Patrick MacNeil
Canada's soldier was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol,about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City, in the Panjwa'i District, at approximately 8:00 a.m. Kandahar time on 21 June 2010.

Killed in action was Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario. Sergeant MacNeil was serving with 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.

We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. The commitment and sacrifice of our military and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province.

Sgt. James MacNeil, 28, a “proud Cape Bretoner” from Glace Bay, N.S., was killed by an improvised explosive device near the village of Nakhonay while on a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army. He was on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Jeannie Lind, his cousin, said MacNeil was planning a new chapter in his life and had just become engaged to Laura, a teacher living in Glace Bay as well, hoping to eventually buy a house and become stationed in Sydney, N.S.

MacNeil was sports enthusiast who played rugby, hockey and baseball, was well-loved by everyone in the community. “He was the life of the party. He would come home and make sure he visited everyone, family and friends. Everybody loved him. Even the janitors where he was stationed were crying today. He was very easy to talk to and get to know,” Lind said, adding that she used to email MacNeil frequently, but is now afraid to check her inbox to read his last dispatch. “I was very proud of him, extremely, we can’t believe it,” she said, adding that MacNeil’s fiancée is devastated. “I haven’t seen her, I’m sure she’s not doing good.”

MacNeil is the second straight Canadian soldier to die in Nakhonay, about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city. Nakhonay is in the Panjwaii district which is known as the birthplace of the Taliban. It has been a battleground for Canadian troops since they arrived in Kandahar province in strength four years ago. While villages and towns have been repeatedly cleared, the Taliban have quietly reasserted themselves in parts of the region.
He was the epitome of excellence and professionalism, said Vance, who called him a “proud Cape Bretoner” who couldn’t say no to a social gathering. Vance said MacNeil was known for his good sense of humour and, according to his men, was a great person to work for.
“He was blessed with a permanent smile and eyes that could not conceal the mischief that he was no doubt contemplating.” Vance said that after MacNeil’s last deployment to Afghanistan, and before his promotion to sergeant, he was recognized as the top master corporal in 2 Mechanized Brigade Group.
Ramp Ceremony ~ Afghanistan
~He is Coming Home~

Under a bright desert moon, Sgt. MacNeil began one last journey home, leaving behind the long shadows and grim faces of his comrades at Kandahar Airfield. Sgt. James MacNeil, of Glace Bay, N.S., was on his fourth and final tour of the battle-racked country when he was killed Monday by an improvised explosive device -- the very weapon the 28-year-old combat engineer was tasked with seeking out and defeating.
His fellow soldiers hoped to take some sort of inspiration from MacNeil's death, which came in much the same way so many others have before: on a dusty road during a routine foot patrol, this one near the village of Nakhonay, 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.
"To a man, we were all affected and many continue to struggle and cope with his death," fellow combat engineer Maj. Jim Smith said Wednesday during an early-morning ramp ceremony at the sprawling military base.
"We continue to fight the good fight in his honour, in his memory. We all must believe that we do this for him."
Less than 24 hours before his death, MacNeil and his girlfriend got engaged long-distance and began making plans for a wedding and a new home.
"It'll be a tremendous loss, and I know it's going to be hard for us to recover from this, but he will always be remembered by those he was closest to as a guy who loved life, loved his friends and loved Laura, his fiancee," Smith said.
1,200 Canadian, Dutch, American and British troops marched onto the tarmac, standing at attention while the light armoured vehicle transporting MacNeil's body slowly made its way onto the airfield. To the familiar skirl of bagpipes, the casket -- shrouded in a Canadian flag -- was carried to a waiting military transport by eight of MacNeil's fellow soldiers.
In remembering his friend, Smith chose to focus on MacNeil's life, rather than his death.
"I've known Jimmy for many years, since 2001 in fact, and I've always loved his sense of humour -- he always tried to be the centre of attention, whether intentionally or not, and he was always the centre of the party," Smith recalled with a smile. "But I can assure you, he was well-liked and well-respected by all his officers, peers and soldiers alike."
In a statement Tuesday, family members said MacNeil was an outgoing and loving young man who died doing something he believed in. "He loved his military career and at the time of his death was on his fourth operational deployment to Afghanistan," the statement said.
"He believed that his career in the military and his deployments to Afghanistan would contribute to a better life for the Afghan people."
Family in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia Prepare for Sgt. MacNeil's Return Home The family of Sgt. James (Jimmy) MacNeil is hoping the public will help honour his final trip home. Nadine Navarole, a first cousin of the late Sgt. Jimmy MacNeil, said the family plans to provide a Highway of Heroes — like the one in Ontario — welcome home.
“When Jimmy is brought home, we are asking anyone who knew him or anyone who would just like to honour him to line the highway — as a salute — from the highway outside the Sydney airport to McGillivray’s Funeral Home in Glace Bay,” she said.
“We are also asking anyone in uniform, such as firefighters and legion members, to come out and stand proudly in their uniform, like Jimmy always did.”
MacNeil, the son of Velma MacNeil and stepfather Allan Burke of Dartmouth, and James MacNeil and stepmother Hellen MacNeil of Glace Bay, joined the military in 2000 after graduating from Glace Bay High School. “He promised us this would be his last tour,” Navarole said. “He fell in love with a wonderful woman — Laura Boutilier, a teacher in Glace Bay. They were looking for a home, getting ready to settle down.”
MacNeil will be repatriated at CFB Trenton on Thursday at 2 p.m. where the official Highway of Heroes is.
His family, including aunts, uncles and some other members, are going to Trenton for the service. The family believes their son will be brought home Saturday, but are still waiting for confirmation. On Tuesday, family members were busy making funeral arrangements. Details have not been finalized, but the service is expected to be held next week at Immaculate Conception Church in Bridgeport.
Navarole said the day also included a lot of reminiscing about the wonderful memories MacNeil left behind. “He had a way of making each and every individual member of his family feel like they were his favourite.” Navarole said the family is receiving an overwhelming show of support from the public. “It is overwhelming and greatly appreciated.”
Kathy MacKinnon, also a first cousin of MacNeil’s, said the news has hit the extremely close-knit family hard. “He was the baby of all the cousins. They all called him their baby boy, it is a devastating blow.” MacKinnon said MacNeil was so family-oriented, all his vacations were spent at home with his family. “When he was home, every family member got to see him,” she said.
“He meant everything to his family and his family meant everything to him.”


If you would like to leave a note of condolence, please place it in the comment section, and I will transfer it below. Regards, m.m.
Our family is deeply sorry for your loss Jimmy was a close friend of my son Master Cpl. Cory Coulson they were a close bunch they loved him for the person he was . We will not forget Jimmy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time . We are so very proud of him for all the good he has done. Our deepest sympathies Sharon & Bill Coulson

It was with great sadness that my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I learned of the death of Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario. Sergeant Macneil was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on foot patrol, some 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar, in the Panjwa'i district.

Driven day after day by their sense of duty, the members of the Canadian Forces answer their country's call in response to Afghan security commitments undertaken by NATO-member countries, under the auspices of the United Nations. Sergeant MacNeil was a dedicated participant in this most complex and perilous mission. We shall forever be indebted to him for the tremendous perseverance, courage, heroism and generosity that he exhibited. We shall not forget him. I know that Canadians are as one in their desire to offer comfort and support to Sergeant Macneil's family, friends and brothers-in-arms. We join them in extending our deepest sympathies and condolences. ~Michaëlle Jean


"The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence mourn the death of Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil, who was killed today after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones in this time of grief.
Sergeant MacNeil served valiantly alongside his comrades to help build a better and brighter future for Afghans. His passing illustrates some of the risks that the selfless men and women of the Canadian Forces face every day in carrying out their duties.
Canada is in Afghanistan as part of a UN-sanctioned mission to help build a stable, democratic, and self-sufficient society. Our Canadian Forces members are playing a key role in this NATO-led mission, helping improve the security situation in order to create the conditions necessary for Afghans to live normal lives.
Sergeant MacNeil was bringing hope to a population that has seen much hardship and turmoil. His death is a terrible loss for the Canadian Forces and all of Canada." ~Peter MacKay


“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil, who died today after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. May you be consoled by the knowledge that an entire country stands behind you in your grief.
“Sergeant Macneil was a courageous, dedicated soldier who gave his life trying to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves and their country.
“Canadians stand proudly with the men and women of the Canadian Forces as they make brave sacrifices in support of this UN-mandated, NATO-led mission to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan.
“Sergeant MacNeil’s life and death serves as an example of the bravery and outstanding dedication of Canadian Forces members on this mission. Canada will remain forever grateful for his sacrifice. We are all saddened by this loss. ~Prime Minister Stephen Harper


Sadness again for Sgt MacNeils family and fiancee, As well as the extended members of the Invisible Army. May he Rest in Peace his duty done. May his family find strength in his brothers in arms friends and Canadians who care.
www.invisiblearmycanada.ca ~ Robby McRobb

Word cannot express what sorrow this tragedy has brought to the friends and family of Jimmy. A kindred spirit has no place in a war of senseless violence and greed. If only time could be reversed... this man is a soldier for heaven now and guards all of our hearts for the rest of the day... I bless all of you to have the strength to get through this difficult time... Rick

I am just a fellow Caper, who is touched by this boy's story. The words and photos shared by those who knew him best, tell the tale of a wholesome young man, full of life & love. May that love surround those he cared for, in his short , but meaningful time on earth. The memories may bring attention to his absence, but will help honor the void that can never be filled. Try to hold on to the happy times. I am sure there were many. God bless, and keep him. In the arms of the angels, an angel on earth is no longer restricted and held back by the human form. He tried to free those he fought to help. He is now free, to help for eternity. Those he left behind continue their battles, personal and global, in his honor. RIP soldier. May we all find such peace in memory of our local hero. A sad time for our island home, our whole country feels the loss, the world could use more like him.. Anonymous

It was such a sad day learning of Sgt. McNeil. In disbelief, I called my son asking him if Jimmy was serving, "Well, information I have says that Jimmy is a Sgt, Jimmy isn't a Sgt." I said to my son. He replied, "Yes he is... Mom, what's going on?" I then told him. We were both shaken and there was a silence and tears. IMy son served with Jimmy during Roto 2. I had an opportunity to meet him and chat with him during their deployment day. Such a wonderful person. I took a picture of him with his fellow comrades when they made the stop at the the Tim's enroute to the awaiting plane. I look at that picture and the smile on his face- such an infectious smile. I have used this picture in my slideshow and dedicated it to Jimmy. I can't imagine what his family is going through. He will me missed by all, but always rememebered. ~ m.m.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bless Private Tyler William Todd ~ Sunday, April 11th, 2010

It is with sorrow today that we learn of the news of our fallen Canadian Soldier. We pray that the Todd family is embraced with love on this very tragic day. Sincerest condolences are sent to friends and family of Pte. Tyler William Todd in particular the comrades who served alongside Tyler in Canada and in Afghanistan. Canada shares your pain and our thoughts are with you through this difficult journey...Rest In Peace...Private, you will be missed.

Private Tyler William Todd ( Funeral Details listed below)
Private Tyler William Todd, a 26-year-old soldier, originally from Kitchener, based in Edmonton, has been killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) that detonated during a dismounted (foot patrol) security patrol in the Dand district at approximately 7:30 a.m. Kandahar time April 11th, 2010. The incident occurred in the vicinity of Belanday, Dand district, approximately eight-kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.
Private Todd from the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta. He was serving as a member with Task Force 3-09 Battle Group.
At this sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our fallen Canadian comrade. The commitment and sacrifice of our soldiers and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province.

Brig.-Gen. Dan Menard, the commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, says Todd was on a routine patrol to learn more about the people of the village and their needs when the bombing happened.

“His enthusiasm and strong will were inspirational to his platoon,” Menard said in a prepared statement. “He was doing what he loved to do — being a soldier operating alongside friends.”

One other soldier was wounded in the attack. The Canadian military no longer releases information on battlefield injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with this soldier for quick recovery.
"Tyler really was an amazing individual," a family friend told QMI Agency Sunday night. "He had a smile that could light up a room and a personality that could make any day seem a little bit brighter. "I wish I had spent more time with him."

Todd - who has an older and younger sister - was raised on a dairy farm outside of Bright, a small town west of Kitchener. The friend said he went to high school in Woodstock, Ont. at Huron Park Secondary.

The friend recalled Todd's sense of humour and reliability. "He brought a lot of laughter to those around him and he was always the person you could depend on in a time of need," the friend said. "He was a rock for those around him." The family friend said he was proud of Todd and his service to Canada.

"I regret that his life has come to an end so soon," he said. "Words alone cannot describe what Tyler meant to his family and friends. "He was just a great person to be around."

Todd would have been only weeks away from completing a six month tour.

The explosion on Sunday happened in Dand district, Menard praised Todd as a person. “Tyler was a practical joker; he would often hide rocks and candies in the other soldier’s bed spaces,” he said. “He never allowed the small things to get to him and was often the rock that other soldiers could depend on.” Bless you Private. Thank you for your dilegence, bravery, courage and commitment to your country. You will never be forgotten. ~m.m.
He's Coming Home
Comrades say goodbye in Afghanistan

More than 1,500 Canadian and allied NATO soldiers gathered on the runway here at a ramp ceremony Monday morning to say goodbye to Pte. Tyler William Todd.
"He was my best friend, more like a brother to me," said Pte. Kristian Winter. "It was an honour to have known him. Todd was the type of guy who kept everybody happy at all times. He'd always cheer you up.
"It was a terrible loss for everybody in the Eleven Platoon and lots of people in his battle group."
Todd was on a foot patrol when he was hit by the explosion, which wounded another soldier, who watched Monday's ceremony from a wheelchair beside the plane that would fly Todd's body toward home.
"Tyler's dedication to the mission was only surpassed by his commitment to his family," said Maj. Wayne Niven, commander of Todd's Delta Company. "Extremely proud of his family, he constantly regaled his buddies about stories from home."
Todd had a blanket that his parents made, Winter said.
"No matter how much we bugged him about it, he brought it everywhere," Winter said, breaking down in tears.

Repatriation ~ Highway of Heroes

Repatriation Ceremonies will be held at CFB Trenton on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. Following, Pte Todd's family will accompany him on the Highway of Heroes.

Join hundreds of other Canadians on the overpasses of the Highway of Heroes (Hwy 401W between Trenton and Victoria Park Avenue Toronto) Hold a flag, wear red, honour our fallen hero and let his family know we are here to support them, standing beside them and show our gratitude for his courage.

Obituary - Saying Goodbye

TODD, Tyler William It is with great sadness the family announces the sudden passing of Tyler William Todd while serving with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan. Tyler Todd of RR#1, Bright, Ontario was in his 27th year. Loving son of Bryan and Bev (Doan) Todd of RR#1 Bright. Dear brother of Samantha and her husband Brett Witzel of Woodstock and Jenna Todd and her friend Dave Smith of RR#1 Bright. Tyler is survived by his grandmother Jackie Grimes and by his aunts, uncles and cousins. Predeceased by his grandparents Don Doan and John and Trudy Todd. Tyler graduated from Huron Park Secondary School, Conestoga College Fire Fighting Program and was a former member of the Bright Fire Department and had played hockey with the Bright Mulisha Hockey Club. Relatives and friends may call at the Glendinning Funeral Home , 40 William St., Plattsville on Saturday 7-9 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral Service will be conducted at the Plattsville Missionary Church on Monday, April 19, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. Private Family interment in Innerkip Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Wounded Warrior Fund or the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund (cheques accepted) would be appreciated by the family. Online condolences can be sent at www.gffh.ca


It was with great sadness that my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I learned of the death of another member of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, Private Tyler William Todd of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

He was killed when an improvised explosive device planted by terrorists went off while he was on patrol in the Dand district, approximately eight kilometres south-west of Kandahar.

This new tragedy occurred just days after a national commemorative ceremony to mark "The End of an Era", during which thousands of Canadians honoured the brave contribution veterans made during the First World War. At this ceremony, I emphasized the importance of perpetuating the heritage left by the men and women who fought for greater justice, freedom and humanity, because—today, as in the past—our soldiers in Afghanistan are fighting the same battle, in the name of the same values, with the same selflessness and extraordinary determination.

In the face of countless dangers, Private Tyler William Todd's brothers and sisters in arms are fully committed to completing their difficult mission with unwavering resolve.

Our thoughts are with the family, loved ones and colleagues of the courageous and generous Private Tyler William Todd, and we would like to offer them our most sincere condolences and deepest sympathy. His noble sacrifice will remain forever etched in our memory.

Michaëlle Jean
"On behalf of the Defence family and our brave men and women in uniform, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Private Tyler William Todd, who died today in Afghanistan. He was killed by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in the Dand district, approximately eight kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. My best wishes for a speedy recovery also go out to his comrade who was injured in the same incident.

Pte. Todd was a professional, dedicated Canadian soldier who served valiantly alongside his comrades to help build a better and brighter future for Afghans. With the help of Canada and our international partners, Afghans are re-establishing themselves and their communities after decades of hardship and turmoil.

Our Canadian Forces members participating in this United Nations-mandated, NATO-led mission face an enemy that will go to any length to try to undermine any progress made. The courage demonstrated by Pte. Todd speaks volumes to his dedication to our country and to this mission. Canada will remain steadfast, and Taliban attacks will not deter our efforts to help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability.

Let us never forget Pte. Todd, whose self-sacrifice served to make life better for others." Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence


On behalf of me and my entire family and the Municipality of Clarington, we thank you Tyler for keeping us all safe!!

Our hearts are with you and your family.

We will be waiting to thank you personally as you pass through Newcastle On.

Thanks Again Tyler,

God Bless,

Jeremy Woodcock
Clarington Mayoral Candidate

god bless Tyler and the Todd family.Tylers dedication,honour,and service to this country is greatly appreciated by all. Being from Bright myself I never expected this war to hit so close to home.Go out and get a Canadian flag and fly it proudly. Thank you once again Tyler, and rest in peace. ~Mcurrah
From his friends:

"We miss you so much Tyler... rest in peace bud xo" ~Anonymous
~Rest in Peace Brother.

~RIP Tyler Todd..what a terrible loss. Thinking of u Jenna and family.

~R.I.P. Tyler... you'll be forever missed... Super proud of you

~RIP Tyler We Will All Miss You...Today We Lost A Good Soldier and Friend...Strong Willed Wanted 2 Help Those In Need And An All Around Good Guy Whether You Knew Him Well Or Not.
~To a hero and friend thank you. thoughts and prayers with you and your family now and always rest in peace Ty.

~tyler, buddy, platoon mate, friend you will be missed.
~RIP Tyler. You are a true hero. Thank you for keeping us safe. You will be missed.

~R.I.P Tyler! i will miss you buddy!

~RIP Tyler miss you like crazy already, beers on me when I meet you on the other side. Never forget you buddy!
~This is a sad day... one of my son's buddies was killed early today near Kandahar City. I have fond memories of Tyler's visits here at the house. I'm proud to have known him. My heart goes out to his family... and, of course, all his friends too... RIP Tyler....

~♥ Tyler..Always and Forever..Thoughts and Prayers.

~Sending my deepest sympathies to Bev and Brian Todd on the loss of their son Tyler today in Afghanistan. Tyler, you were a proud Canadian, a good son, brother & friend. We appreciate your sacrifice and you will not be forgotten. We are so proud of you... You are a true hero. May you rest in peace.

~R.I.P. Tyler Todd. Your family misses you dearly.

~♥ I know you're in a happy place Ty, miss you already!! Rest In Peace ♥.

~No Tears in Heaven... No Sorrows Given... All Will Be Glory In this Day!!!! RIP Tyler!!
RIP Todd. we'll never forget you man.

~Hope its not what i heard

~No Tears in Heaven... No Sorrows Given... All Will Be Glory In this Day!!!! RIP Tyler!!
~May some peace come to Ty's family simply by seeing how much he was loved...to Ty's parents... you raised a very special man... strong, courageous... and 100% genuinely, 1 of a kind Tyler... it was definitely my priviledge to have spent many summers, weekends, and years with Tyler as part of my life... it's a space tha...t is full... and will remain so with memories, laughter and great times that I was blessed to share with him. My heart goes out to everyone right now that is broken hearted with the loss of one Canada's greatest men... xoxo never far from our hearts Ty...
~Goodbye my friend, until we meet again.
~RIP Todd. We'll never forget you man.
~R.I.P. Tyler... you'll be forever missed... Super proud of you Cuz.
~RIP Todd...too close to home this time. you will be missed buddy....
to a hero and friend thank you. thoughts and prayers with you and your family now and always rest in peace Ty
~Rest peacefully Bro...
~Requests prayers for the family and friends of Tyler Todd, a great man and a greater friend!
Words cannot even begin to explain....Tyler you will be missed more then you ever know! RIP XOXO.
~♥ Tyler..Always and Forever..Thoughts and Prayers.
~Will be back in Ontario thursday to be with his family during this difficult time. I love you all so much, can't wait to see you.
~..still shaking my head, saying "what?"..
~We all will miss you Tyler you are a friend to those that know you and a true hero to the ones that needed you R.I.P old friend.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour Saturday, March 27th

Celebrate Earth Hour

Wherever you are in the world, don't forget to turn out your lights at 8:30 pm for one hour on Saturday, March 27th

It's our earth. See it in a whole new light. Let's light a candle for a soldier.

To make your own virtual lantern click here.


Monday, March 22, 2010

God Bless Cpl Darren James Fitzpatrick - March 20th, 2010

It is with sadness that today we learn about the death of Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick at the University of Alberta Hospital Saturday as a result of wounds he sustained in Afghanistan on March 6.
God Bless Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick
Cpl. Fitzpatrick, of Prince George, B.C., was a 21-year-old Infantryman and a member of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based at CFB Edmonton.

This was Cpl. Fitzpatrick's first operational tour. He joined the Canadian Forces in 2006 and had been serving in Afghanistan with Operational Mentor Liaison Team the since last October.

Cpl. Fitzpatrick was critically wounded by an improvised explosive device during a joint Canadian/Afghan dismounted patrol 25 km West of Kandahar City in Zharey district on March 6. He was treated at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield and was then moved to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Cpl. Fitzpatrick was evacuated from LRMC to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton on Friday.
Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick passed away late Saturday afternoon surrounded by his family. May strength come to his family and friends as they travel a difficult journey ahead. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Align LeftCondolences
If you'd like to leave a message of condolence, please post it in the comments section and I will transfer it below. Regards, M.M.
"I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Corporal Darren James Fitzpatrick, a courageous Canadian soldier who died Saturday after being wounded in Afghanistan during a patrol March 6. Our thoughts are very much with you during this difficult time.

Cpl. Fitzpatrick was engaged in an international effort to help Afghanistan stand on its own and rebuild after decades of war.

Although the United Nations-mandated, NATO-led mission is difficult, measurable progress has been made in Afghanistan. Whether improving the security situation in order to set the conditions for reconstruction and development, or providing humanitarian assistance, the Canadian Forces are making a considerable difference.

Cpl. Fitzpatrick gave his life while providing hope to Afghans for a brighter future. We will continue to work with our Afghan and international partners to ensure his sacrifice will not be forgotten. " ~ Peter MacKay - Minister of National Defence
It was with great sadness that my husband Jean-Daniel Lafond and I learned that the war in Afghanistan had claimed a new victim from among the ranks of our valorous and courageous soldiers.

Corporal Darren James Fitzpatrick was on patrol west of Kandahar when he was wounded by an anti-personnel mine on March 6. Unfortunately he succumbed Saturday to his injuries, surrounded by his loved ones in Edmonton.

Canada and its extended military family have lost a remarkable and very generous man.

Corporal Darren James Fitzpatrick cared very deeply about serving his country. On mission in Afghanistan, he was convinced of the crucial importance of humanitarian assistance for the communities of Kandahar province, where poverty, insecurity and terrorism are daily realities.

From the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of all Canadians, we extend our most sincere condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Corporal Fitzpatrick, in particular those serving in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. We share their pain, and our thoughts are with them. ~Michaëlle Jean

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deployment Support Centre

Deployment is something that affects all members of the family. Stress can often present itself before, during, and after a deployment. Deployment makes physical and emotional demands on the service member, spouse, children, family and friends. Deployment affects everyone involved.
Remember: you are not alone. When my son was away, I found comfort in speaking with personnel from the DSC when I didn't know where to turn. On a personal note, I want to thank them so much for helping me during a time of need. They will assist you if you're worried, feeling sad, or have a question.
The mission of the Deployment Support Centre is to provide the best possible support to all families who are experiencing the absence of a loved one due to a deployment, course or tasking.
Their staff will assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Toll-Free Number: 1-877-218-9993 (Canada)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Changes to Recognition for Overseas Service

Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced March 17, 2010 changes to the South-West Asia Service Medal (SWASM), the General Campaign Star (GCS) and the General Service Medal (GSM). These changes were introduced following a major review of all recognition provided for overseas service in order to simplify and standardize overseas recognition for Canadian Forces (CF) personnel. The creation of a formal device to recognize those who serve multiple rotations in missions eligible for the SWASM, the GCS and the GSM was key in this review.
“We are grateful to all of our Canadian Forces personnel for their bravery and dedication,” said Minister MacKay. “The changes announced today allow the Government of Canada to acknowledge the individual experience of men and women who deploy on operations with the recognition they so richly deserve.”
Rotation bars have been created to mark multiple rotations in missions eligible for the three medals. Personnel will earn a rotation bar emblazoned with a maple leaf for each period of 180 days of eligible service accumulated after the initial qualifying period of 30 days. With the addition of rotation bars, mission bars will no longer be worn on the GCS and GSM. Instead, the medals will be displayed on ribbons that indicate the theatre or service for which the medal was awarded. This ensures that all service in a defined theatre of operations is accorded the same recognition, regardless of the mission.
Additional changes include an adjustment in the criteria to receive the GSM for a support function, from 90 to 30 days, and the establishment of three distinct ribbons for the GCS and GSM. The South-West Asia ribbon, the Allied Force ribbon to replace the Allied Force bar and the Expedition ribbon to recognize smaller operations conducted in the presence of an armed enemy.
The General Campaign Star is awarded to CF personnel, and members of allied forces working with the CF, who deploy into a defined theatre of operations to take part in operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

The General Service Medal is awarded to CF personnel, members of allied forces and Canadian citizens other than CF personnel serving with the CF who deploy outside of Canada - but not necessarily into a theatre of operations - to provide direct support to operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

The South-West Asia Service Medal recognizes the participation of CF personnel deployed or in direct support of the operations against terrorism in South-West Asia. Eligibility for the SWASM ends as of 31 July 2009 and all service in theatre from 1 August 2009 onwards is eligible for either the General Campaign Star or General Service Medal with South-West Asia ribbon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Team Captains of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Teams have written a letter to show the troops to show their appreciation. I wanted to share it with you. quest for the Gold Medal.
Have a great tour troops, wherever you may be, enjoy the Olympics, and good luck to our Hockey heroes in their quest for the Gold Medal.

February 5, 2010

To OUR Troops,

As we get ready to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Februaryand March, we wanted to take a minute to let each and every one of you know how much of an inspiration you will be in our quest for three gold medals in the coming months.

People throw out words like war and battle way too often when speaking about sports such as hockey.,,As athletes, we know that what we do for our country can never measure up to your contributions ‐ the sacrifice and dedication that our armed forces show on a daily basis.

When we take to the ice, rest assured that we will have you in our thoughts and prayers. We are so proud to be Canadians, and owe so much of what we have here to you, the Canadian military.

We will do our best to represent you well in competition, and look forward to a day in the very near future when you will return home safely in Canada, and all Canadians can thank you in person.

All the best,
Jean Labonte
Captain Sledge Hockey Team

Scott Niedermayer
Captain Men's Hockey Team

Hayley Wickenheiser
Captain Women's Hockey Team

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bless Cpl Joshua Caleb Baker February 12, 2010

Always in Our Hearts

It is with sadness that today I announce that one Canadian soldier was killed and four were injured in a training accident on a range located approximately 4 km northeast of Kandahar City. The accident took place at about 5:00 p.m., Kandahar time, on 12 February 2010.

Bless Cpl Joshua Caleb Baker

Killed in the accident was Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, a member of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), from Edmonton, Alberta, and serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Brigadier General Daniel Menard said Baker had a laugh that lightened any situation.
"Joshua had a laugh rumoured to cure cancer," he said. "No matter where you were or how down you got, his laugh would find your ears and bring a smile to your face."
Baker, from Edmonton, was "an extremely positive, passionate" person, Menard said.
"He had a deep love for his family and worried constantly about them."
In offering his condolences to Baker's family, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Baker "served valiantly in order to build a better future for Afghanistan."

This accident is non-battle related and an investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) is under way to determine the circumstances.

The four injured soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Facility at the Kandahar Airfield. They are reported to be in stable condition and their names will not be released.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our fallen comrade at this sad time. The commitment and sacrifice of our soldier and his loved ones will always be remembered.

Ramp Ceremony in Afghanistan
Comrades of Cpl. Joshua Caleb Baker said goodbye in a sombre ramp ceremony on Saturday.
Padre Maj. Shaun Yaskiw led the service to honour the 24-year-old Edmonton-based soldier, described as “mentally tough, physically robust and (having) a personality that made him a natural leader.”
A bagpipe played as the soldiers paid their respects to their fallen comrade. Baker's casket was loaded on a plane for the return to Canada, home to his family.

If you wish to leave condolences, please enter them into the comment section and I will transfer them here. With Regards, m.m.

Rest in Peace, Cpl. Baker.
My prayers for all who love this fine young Canadian.


Thank you so much for your heartfelt words. They mean the world to us, Josh's family. He really was a wonderful young man and we concur with you, our lose is deep but our hearts are grateful. We would not trade our sorrow for having known Josh. He left us better because of how truly genuine he was. Genuine in his faith, love for his family, love for his colleagues and friends. He was easy to love, a likeable guy. We will truly miss Josh. Canada will miss Josh.
Margie Krause

I happened to be on the Royal Canadian Legion website to look into the Remembrance Day Poster contest information as my 10 year old son came in 2nd place with his poster. I saw the special section for soldiers lost in Afghanistan this year and read each one. Josh's caught my attention and I had to look into finding out more about him. As I read the statements about him, the immensity of his loss resonated with me. As a mother of 2 boys, I cannot imagine the strength it takes to have your son deliberately put himself in harm's way to protect the beliefs in freedom and respect Canada has. I am humbled by you and at the same time, pray I never have to experience the loss you have.

Susan Mladenovich, Whitby Ontario

My heart bleeds for you and your family. After a full year has gone by, I have to share this with you...On the day that your son Joshua was killed in Afghanistan, my husband Keith, was watching the news when he saw the information going across the bottom of the TV screen; "A Canadian soldier was killed today in Afghanistan. Corporal Joshua..." He almost died with fright seeing the name "Corporal Joshua..." on the screen, because, you see, our son "Corporal Joshua Collins" was also on the front lines of Afghanistan, serving in the SAME PRT, at the same time, as your son. For a split second, Keith thought that it was our son Joshua that was killed, until he saw the name "Baker"instead of "Collins" on the screen. He was filled with instant relief which was replaced by instant grief for you and your son Joshua. He came upstairs to tell me what had happened and we were both beside ourselves with grief. As I watched it later on, on the TV, your sons name going across the screen, it broke my heart. All we could think about is that there is a family out there that had just lost their son and it could have easily been ours. Keith and I are both retired from the Canadian Forces and served our Country for many long years. Keith is the president of "Kemmel Ridge" Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Unit (CAV) here in Placentia, NL and he just recently found out what the CAV means to you. Our son Joshua, who is now a Master Corporal, knew your son, though, not well. He too was affected deeply by the day that Joshua was killed. Our thoughts and our prayers are always with you. God Bless you and give you the strength to carry on. "MAY JOSHUA'S SUPREME SACRIFICE NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!" REST IN PEACE JOSHUA!!!! xoxoxoxox
Keith & Karyn Collins
Placentia, NL

"We grieve the loss of Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker who died yesterday in Afghanistan. This brave soldier died as a result of a training accident. I want to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to the four soldiers who were injured in the same incident.

My heartfelt sympathies and thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Cpl Baker, who should be proud of this professional, dedicated soldier. This is a tragic loss for Canada and for the Canadian Forces.

Cpl Baker gave his life helping to create the secure conditions needed to re-establish Afghanistan and carry out reconstruction efforts such as the building of schools, hospitals and roads. We will honour this sacrifice by continuing our efforts to bring freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law to Afghanistan.

Canada’s participation in this United Nations-mandated NATO-led mission is a true reflection of the Canadian values of helping those in need and defending the interests of those who can’t yet defend themselves.

His sacrifice will inspire those who give of themselves to create a vibrant, safe and democratic Afghanistan.”
- Peter MacKay

An accident in Afghanistan has taken the life of Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, a member of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry), based in Edmonton, Alberta, and wounded four of his comrades. My husband Jean-Daniel Lafond and I are deeply saddened by this loss, as are all Canadians.

Faithful to the values of caring and solidarity that our country holds so dear, Corporal Baker volunteered to support the mission in Afghanistan that Canada is carrying out alongside other NATO member countries. Together with his brothers and sisters in arms, he was prepared to take on a difficult and dangerous environment.

Corporal Baker served bravely and generously to support Afghans’ hopes for security, justice and a better life. He merits our wholehearted admiration.

Our sincerest condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues. May they take comfort in knowing that we share their pain and that they are not alone.

We also offer our wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were wounded. Our thoughts are with them in these difficult times.~Michaëlle Jean, Governor General

Military Appreciation Rally - Quinte West

Quinte West Ontario

From the offices of:
Mayor John R. Williams & Members of Council City of Quinte West
For more information Contact: Mayor John R. Williams, City of Quinte West
613-392-2841 Ext. 4431
Office of the Mayor John R. Williams
P.O. Box 490 Trenton, Ontario, K8V 5R6

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reservists' Budget-Cuts? Our Soldiers?

The Canadian Forces Reserves

Members of the Reserves are Military personnel. They train hard to be able to work alongside members of the Regular Force. They develop the skills that enable them to make a meaningful contribution to the team. It's tough and it requires commitment. Expectations are high. Army Reserve members are part of a team where they must depend on each other. They all have to perform their duties, no matter the weather, the time of day or night. On weekends they participate in field exercises, aimed at honing their skills. They need to be sharp if, at some point, they volunteer for a UN tour. Militia members regularly serve on UN missions working beside Regular Force soldiers. They have to be competent at their job. They are the Army.

The following article was brought to my attention. I can't begin to tell you how I feel. These are soldiers who have dedicated their time and themselves, working at jobs or going to school and yet making a commitment to the military. On Tuesday, Christie Blatchford wrote on the current budget-cuts of the Reserve Force and the attempt to slash 5,000 full-time reserve jobs. Some soldiers have already been cut back from working 4 times a month+ to one 3 hour evening. Let me know how you feel.

Even in the wake of recent deaths, budgets to train and recruit our part-time soldiers are being slashed .
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
January 18, 2010 at 7:32 PM EST
Sergeant George Miok, Sergeant Kirk Taylor and Corporal Zachery McCormack – three of the young soldiers who were killed, along with Private Garrett Chidley and Canadian journalist Michelle Lang, in a massive roadside bomb late last year – have all been laid to rest. What these three had in common, which has received remarkably little notice – they were all reservists, or part-time soldiers. Sgt. Miok, who was also a teacher, was a member of 41 Combat Engineer Regiment, a reserve unit based in Edmonton; Sgt. Taylor's home unit was the 84 Independent Field Battery in Yarmouth, N.S., and Corp. McCormack was an “Eddie,” a member of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, a storied infantry unit.
I didn't know any of them but experience tells me they would have been as fiercely proud of their real units as Pte. Chidley was of being a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
In Afghanistan, reservists are usually attached as individuals to the battle group, and when they are killed overseas, their reserve identities are usually subsumed by the larger regiment – officially referred to, if at all, only obliquely, as in, “based in Yarmouth” or “from Edmonton.”
Yet throughout Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, reservists have been there.
They have given lives and limbs, just as the regulars have. Every roto to
Kandahar has had at least 300 reservists (out of a total of about 2,500 soldiers) and some as many as 500-plus. They do the same jobs and take the same risks as their full-time counterparts and, once deployed, are also paid the same and receive the same benefits. Some of them have to take unpaid leave from civilian jobs, or put promising careers on the shelf, for the privilege of going.
Yet traditionally, when budget push comes to shove, the reserves take a harder hit than the regular force – chiefly because, where in the regular force wages come from a separate envelope of funds, in the militia it's all of a single piece, so when you cut reserve dollars you're cutting training, bullets, travel, pay and people. Thus, what purports to be suffering dispersed equally in fact isn't.
It's happening again, and was even as those three young men were buried this month. According to what Brigadier-General John Collin, the commander of Joint Task Force Central Area (it means Ontario), has been saying at town hall meetings across the province, the army is looking to chop 5,000 reservists. The cuts are completely at odds with the government's stated position that both the regular army and the reserves are to grow as part of the Canada First defence strategy, and raise the question: If Ottawa has been giving the army the money to grow, what the heck has the army been doing with it?
The key cuts are being made to what are called “Class B” contracts, those reservists who hold full-time jobs, many in training positions.

As Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Blair McGregor told me recently in a furious note, “reserve units are being stripped of the full-time support staff that is so desperately needed to train the part-time soldiers we rely on.” Lt.-Col. McGregor was until 2008 the Commanding Officer of the Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver, home unit of Captain Trevor Greene, who was axed in the head and nearly killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2006.
But the cuts aren't stopping there, and they appear to be deeper than first quietly announced in November. According to Lt.-Col. McGregor, John Selkirk of Reserves 2000 (a group formed
to fight for the militia) and others contacted by The Globe and Mail, contracts for Afghanistan-deploying reservists have been cut by a month, reservists who have put civilian lives on hold are having theirs cancelled at the last minute and training budgets are being slashed, with training in some units cut to a half-night a week.
The cuts are also being applied to recruiting, with the next recruit classes in some units cut by more than half. As Mr. Selkirk, the former honorary colonel of the Brockville Rifles, says, “That's the difference between growing and probably shrinking.” And reserve units, once shrunk, are then vulnerable to government pressure to amalgamate with other units.
“I haven't seen it this bad since the late 1980s, '90s,” says one noncommissioned officer at an Ontario reserve unit; this, remember, was the period that former chief of the defence staff Rick Hillier described as “the decade of darkness.”
As Lt.-Col. McGregor says, “The militia regiments that have stood the test of time … are being threatened with starvation in order to make ends meet. Without a force generator like the reserve regiments, our Canadian Forces will be very hard-pressed to make the contribution that is required.…we know from the historic record that there is always another emergency around the corner.” (He wrote that before the earthquake flattened Haiti, a country with which
Canada has strong ties. If the army wasn't overstretched before, it will be now.)
The truth is that the reserves and its citizen soldiers have always been unappreciated by the bureaucracy at the Department of National Defence and sometimes by government. To Lt.-Col. McGregor, the reserves should function for the regular army as the junior leagues do for the National Hockey League. Yet Canada is one of the few countries in the world where the army reserves are smaller than the regular army. This makes no sense, he says. “There should likely be a 2:1 or 3:1 reserves to regular force ratio. “A further truth about the reserve army is that you can't rip it apart and then easily or quickly rebuild it later when you need it. As in the hockey analogy, each hockey team in any league has a first, second and third line and each team has
leadership in the form of a coach, manager, captain and several assistant captains.

“And soldiers,” he says, “like to belong to cohesive and proud organizations and in Canada these are called regiments. They are the ‘teams' on which soldiers exist.” In the national game, anyone who doesn't perform is swiftly fired.

Canada's soldiers, reservists included, have performed beyond expectations. Would that the same could be said of those who make these maddening and shabby decisions.